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Isopropyl .. April 26, 2007

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Kids, Music, My Girlfriend.
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Say hello, wave goodbye ..

150px-isopropanol-3d-vdw.pngIt is the end of an era .. in days of old, when ships set sail to restore England’s pride, I bought a smoky brown glass jar of Isopropyl Alcohol from Boots Chemist for £3.69 (I know cos the label is still on it) on recommendation of the geeky looking guy in the hi-fi shop .. I was a mere teenager and audio cassettes were the de rigour .. I used to record loads of trite off the radio and had just started getting into four track home recording on my Tascam Porta 1 .. ahh those were the days ..

To clean the cassette heads you used to have to get a cotton bud, dip it in the alcohol and rub all the dirt and grime away before you made your masterpiece .. the smell is instant and recognisable, like a mix of pencil smells & clinical institutions ..

Anyway .. I’ve kept that self same bottle of Alcohol on the shelf for all those years, it saw me through leaving home, came with me to college, my first real home, having kids (I think that’s when it went to the high shelf) through to today .. but needs must .. I was clearing space out for girls stuff ‘well where am I going to put my stuff?’, said T, with what I have to admit was a reasonable degree of concern and empathy* .. the junk had to go .. I had ditched the audio cassettes some 3 or 4 years ago, but the Isopropyl stood for so much more ..

It is now no longer. Where the bottle once stood, now stands girls stuff .. disposable stuff that will probably be out of favour in a few months and replaced by the seasons’ hot trends .. tee hee .. so long big brown bottle, you have been good to me ..

* It’s because she is worth it ..

Birthday Breakfast .. April 26, 2007

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Kids, Uncategorized.
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It was my Birthday last week .. in terms of milestones, for the first time my kids made me breakfast in bed ..

Apron strings are tough ones to snap, but it was an emotional moment to get poached eggs on toast cooked for me in a team-like production line (I do hope they washed their hands!). I’m guessing it will be a few years yet until they open the row of dusty cookbooks and/or stay out all night and come home at breakfast time, but they re growing up faster than I can shake a punk rock CD at them ..

I Missed Communism .. April 26, 2007

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Reviews.
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pictwall2.jpg

It should be easy to catch a train from London to Colchester, but when you work to the wire and run to the station there is a tendency to ignore the destination list ajust jump on the first thing heading east .. suffice to say that I did just that, didn’t get a seat, sat on the floor and popped my head up at the first stop.. which happened to be Manningtree, about 20 miles to far East ..

Fuckwittedness corrected, I met up with T in Colchester and we managed to eat just in time to catch the start of last night’s thespian delight .. I Miss Communism at the Colchester Arts Centre ..

It’s a one woman show, loosely linked to the Eastern Bloc, but more closely categorised as a life story of Ines Wurth. Ines is a Croatian by Birth, now living in California. It follows growing up under Tito, through a move to the US to attend College and up to present day. It is an energetic work & for one person to keep the audience engaged through song and dialogue alone is very impressive ..

The trials along the way included an alleged gang rape at the hands of Serbian Soldiers during the war. This wasn’t the easiest topic for anyone to build into a lighthearted jaunt, but that aside the smiles were plenty & Ines squeezes a lot of laughs out of contrasting ideologies ..

She even has a picture of herself with Pee Wee Herman on her web site – I bet Tito would have loved that ..

Go see  .. it’s going round the country ..

BMG, Justin & Me .. April 23, 2007

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Music, Reviews.
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220px-avrilgfdl.jpgIt’s a small victory, if a victory at all, but the only publishing music contract that I still have is with Complete Music. This was for some songs that I wrote for Ipswich Town FC and the Cherry Red Record that bore their fruit. It’s not lucrative in the Robbie Williams sense of the word and I would be hard pushed to keep myself in Wine Gums from the revenue, but that’s hardly the point ..

The other day I received a letter in the post to say that Sony/BMG had bought up Complete Music, and that all the songs are now owned by BMG publishing .. woo hoo .. BMG is the biggest baddest Music compony going and one that you would run a mile from to retain your false indie credibilities, but I’m no longer Citizen Smith in that department, so the small victory now sees me sharing publishers with Avril Lavigne and Justin Timberlake amongst others .. I can picture it now, they are bound to invite me round for lunch sometime soon .. maybe ..

Madrid .. April 18, 2007

Posted by stagedive in Holiday, Idle Thoughts, Madrid, My Girlfriend, Reviews, Travel.
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Of course your car will be safe parked in Luton all weekend .. <gulp> .. as we hauled our sleep deprived, adrenalin fuelled bones to Luton Terminal 1, I tried to sound reassuring .. it was quite good to leave Luton, it isn’t the most inspiring location in the UK ..

The taxi into Madrid centre is unassuming at first, but you get a great panoramic of the City about half way , with the bull ring menacing close and the Commercial district in full view ..

urban_hotel_central.jpgI still didn’t know where we were staying & when we reached the destination, I was somewhat speechless. The Hotel Urban is a gem .. a Five Star gem at that .. the fixed grin that started at the leafy tube station the day before just got a tad bigger .. with Madrid being more a place of atmosphere rather than manic sightseeing, having a plush hotel was just the best thing ever ..

Urban is full on .. part of the Derby Hotel Collection and notably a feature in the Design Hotels Guide that T had spotted when we stayed in the Three Sisters .. very clever girl ..

“Urban” is plush in the design sense of the word. It has oceans of glass and steel without all the twee fussiness of a traditional bell-boy-esque 5* establishment. If anyone would feel out of place in a 5* royalty, but wants some seriously lavish design, this is the place to come ..

The staff were all understated and friendly without being in your face, and their dress code is closer to Men In Black than Brideshead Revisted. There is ethnic art a plenty, which whilst not my bag, it does work really well with the contrasting uber modern construction.

What to do in Madrid? well aside from making full use of the hotel’s features and hospitality, naturally .. we did a walking tour of Old Madrid, taking in Tapas, Plaza mayor, the Palace, the Cathedral & the Opera .. ending up on the main shopping street of Casa Via .. it is a very clean city, and whilst my pre-conception of Spain is neutral take it or leave it, the country as a whole did go up in my estimation after only the first day.

Adjusting to the eat late and party principle, we Siesta’d and ate at a great little Restaurant called Root at something approaching midnight. It’s a marvl that old and young alike are out at this time, all looking bright and fresh .. if this were the UK, eating at midnight would be pissed blokes out for a Curry and nothing more. The place was rammed with locals, always a good sign, and the waiting time was acceptable. Food was fantastic and the atmosphere equal to it .. could have happily stayed there all evening, but we went drinking instead.

The following day we went further afield, slightly. A walking tour through the Bourbon District, including Parque del Retiro & its lazy laid back inhabitants. Then we headed out on the Metro .. I love getting underground on public transport, Faro de Moncloafor one thing it’s seemingly always cleaner and more efficient than London & also gets you a view of the real City. I then went on a solo tour of the Bernabeu Stadium whilst T hit the shops .. we then leisurely walked for miles toward the Faro de Moncloa tower .. a great vantage point over the City .. sadly it was a Woody World situation and the place was shut, but the walk was worth it ..

We did the right thing and slept, then ate late and then drunk more .. it is definitely the way to go, but it does screw your body clock up when you get back to blighty. It was a struggle to get up and out of the hotel before 3pm the following day, but it was for all the right reasons..

Culture injection on Sunday. Approx 3 stops at the marvelous Faborit Coffee Shop, bordered by a waltz through the Old town, up and round to the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Depending on your taste in art this is well worth a visit .. a sweeping overview of 19th & 20th Century Western Art with some great Impressionist & Expressionist pieces. I tire at the older Baroque period, but thankfully my partner in crime feels the same .. the building and gardens are notable in their own right & also the £4 entry seemed cheap by US equivalents ..

Then .. we came home .. the car was safe, lost and alone in a multi storey middle England concrete prison, with lifts that had aroma’s of piss & crashed the soul back to earth with a jolt ..

It was a fantastic weekend, primarily the company, but that aside, I hadn’t a clue where I was going and Madrid was in my Top 3 places to visit! I would have been happy as larry in Skegness, but there’s always T’s birthday .. I’m sure she would like the Smith’s tribute deep down .. I’ll work on it ..

I’m in love with a Girl .. April 16, 2007

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, My Girlfriend, Travel.
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As surprise weekends go, I couldn’t really wish for a more perfect surprise .. that’s not to say I have had that many surprise weekend’s to gather a baseline, but I feel safe on my hunch ..

To the call of ‘Can I take you away somewhere for your Birthday Weekend?’, I have one stock answer .. 

I hadn’t made any effort to spoil the birthday surprise and have been rather impressed with the tactics to throw me off scent .. I’m not sure if I am easily pleased, but even the red herrings in this episode sounded very appealing .. there was the Smith’s tribute Band at Butlins, the Northern Soul weekender, non stop naughtiness in the Lake District & a Brighton coastal jaunt .. all mentioned with varying degrees of sincerity .. the fact that I loved the sound of all of them didn’t help .. if there is a weekend of Smith’s tribute bands at Butlins can someone please tell me about it as I feel farely sure I will have another birthday at some point ..

‘Don’t get too excited, we are going somewhere in the UK’  .. that stayed with me .. up until a friend of mine asked where I was going last Thursday.. I still had no clue at that point, but he asked whether T knew where I kept my passport .. I didn’t think she did, but after putting him on hold and going to check .. the passport was missing .. woo hoo .. I’ll make an MI5 agent yet ..

I met T after work at a leafy tube station and we loaded up the Polo for the start of our journey .. I wasn’t blindfolded, but wasn’t allowed to look .. On the premise of stopping for something to eat on our way up the M1, we pulled into Luton .. I looked curious as we headed into the hotel car park, and maintained the same gaze through checking in and sitting down to eat ..

‘You can have part of your present early’ .. ahhhh .. it was  guide book to .. … … Madrid .. OMG !!

I would have been more than happy with a weekend away anywhere with T, but this was pretty much a bullseye … I loved the fact that she wanted to take me away at all, to build up the surprise and to care as much if not more about the detail as the end product ..

I don’t believe in the term of a Soulmate, but if Carlsberg made them, I think I found the one they made for me .. oh .. and it got better too ..

Julian, Dick & Ann .. April 12, 2007

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Travel.
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I am going away on a mystery weekend. I didn’t really even get to pack my own stuff. I haven’t a clue where I’m going/being taken, and when people ask me I’ve just shrugged. It’s very exciting in an Enid Blighton kinda way .. I am thinking it’s going to involve bad guys and Timmy the dog, but I might be wrong .. quite liberating ..

It’s my birthday you see ..

Diet Coke Break .. April 10, 2007

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts.
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I saw Jimmy at Jimmy’s Farm .. the real Jimmy that is. We spent Sunday in the company of sheep, pigs and chickens .. lots of punky chickens, roosters, bantams and the like .. the sun shone it was lovely ..

The point of this was/is though .. that Jimmy was cutting the grass! Now that is dedication for you, you own a farm and have your own TV Series and you still get up on Easter Sunday with a hangover (I assume without knowing the facts) and get the mower out .. but more to the point, you have 1000s of visitors to your farm, largely to see what all the fuss is about after watching said TV Series, and instead of mingling and signing autographs, you cut the grass.

I’m no marketing man and not a big fan of men in the Diet Coke breaks, but if I was Jimmy, I’d be milking the moment and getting the crowds in .. the girls love it .. apparently ..

Mapped .. April 3, 2007

Posted by stagedive in Idle Thoughts, Travel.
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It used to be that when you got lost, you asked a native the way to your destination, or maybe in extreme circumstances you would consult the map, or even buy an Atlas at the nearest Service Station ..

It was with this context that the following amused me greatly .. Last night Extravagant Canadian Girlfriend, calls me on her way back from Shakespeare Country and finds herself off the motorway and in deepest darkest Birmingham ..

ECG “I’ve been on the Toll Road four times .. so I’ve had enough .. I stopped and took action ..”
Me “Sympathetic Murmurs.. but theres only one small stretch of road that is Toll Road?!’
ECG “I know, I know .. I asked directions after that and am now in Bromwich .. anyway, it’s all ok now ..”
Me “Oh good, why is that, are you near the Motorway?”
ECG “Not sure, but I have a travelling companion”
Me “Huh??”
ECG “I just stopped at Currys and bought a Tom Tom” .. in a tone that seemed the most logical thing in the world to do ..
Me <Stunned/Bemused/Amazed/Speechless>

So there you have it .. why buy a map or follow signs to the M6 when you can buy a new gadget for £200??!! I love that logic. I wish I were that compulsive, but naturally I wouldn’t have gotten lost in the first place .. ahem ..

She was even considerate enough to get the European version for me to use on my Summer Road Trip 🙂 There are, after all, some advantages in Girls not being able to read maps ..